Africa: U.S. to Invite African Heads of State to Summit in 2014

President Obama answers questions at a Young African Leaders Initiative town hall meeting in Soweto.
1 July 2013

An excerpt from President Obama's speech at the University of Cape Town:

So long as parts of Africa continue to be ravaged by war and mayhem, opportunity and democracy cannot take root.

Across the continent, there are places where too often fear prevails.

From Mali to Mogadishu, senseless terrorism all too often perverts the meaning of Islam -- one of the world's great religions -- and takes the lives of countless innocent Africans. From Congo to Sudan, conflicts fester -- robbing men, women and children of the lives that they deserve. In too many countries, the actions of thugs and warlords and drug cartels and human traffickers hold back the promise of Africa, enslaving others for their own purposes.

America cannot put a stop to these tragedies alone, and you don't expect us to. That's a job for Africans. But we can help, and we will help.

I know there's a lot of talk of America's military presence in Africa.

But if you look at what we're actually doing, time and again, we're putting muscle behind African efforts. That's what we're doing in the Sahel, where the nations of West Africa have stepped forward to keep the peace as Mali now begins to rebuild. That's what we're doing in Central Africa, where a coalition of countries is closing the space where the Lord's Resistance Army can operate. That's what we're doing in Somalia, where an African Union force, AMISOM, is helping a new government to stand on its own two feet.

These efforts have to lead to lasting peace, not just words on a paper or promises that fade away. Peace between and within Sudan and South Sudan, so that these governments get on with the work of investing in their deeply impoverished peoples. Peace in the Congo with nations keeping their commitments, so rights are at last claimed by the people of this war-torn country, and women and children no longer live in fear. Peace in Mali, where people will make their voices heard in new elections this summer.

In each of these cases, Africa must lead and America will help. And America will make no apology for supporting African efforts to end conflict and stand up for human dignity.

And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the OAU, now the African Union -- an occasion that is more historic, because the AU is taking on these challenges. And I want America to take our engagement not just on security issues, but on environmental issues -- and economic issues and social issues, education issues -- I want to take that engagement to a whole new level.

So I'm proud to announce that next year, I'm going to invite heads of state from across sub-Saharan Africa to a summit in the United States to help launch a new chapter in U.S.-African relations. And as I mentioned yesterday, I'm also going to hold a summit with the next class of our Young African Leaders Initiative, because we want to engage leaders and tomorrow's leaders in figuring out how we can best work together.

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